I have been officially a student at Hillsdale College for nearly two months now and, since I have not dropped out, been expelled, or died, I would say it is going pretty well. Classes are challenging but interesting, and none of my teachers hate me (I think).
Honestly, though, I find I am learning just as much outside of the classroom as in it. Learning how to manage my own time, form meaningful relationships, and to just take care of myself has been one of the more challenging parts of college. Writing papers, doing worksheets, completing reading assignments—I am familiar with all of that. Meeting a slew of new people, learning to take initiative with professors, and training myself not to stay up until 3 AM every night is what has challenged me more.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is simply to just give relationships time. Juggling all sorts of new friendships has probably been most difficult for me. As someone who has grown up with a very close friend group, it was strange, and almost terrifying, for me to leave that and be plunged into a crowd where I only knew a few people. Even though I realize the entire freshmen class is in the same situation, it does not make it any easier to sit down at a table full of strangers and just start talking (something I have never done and will probably never do).
A little time, though, combined with a little effort, has gone a long way in sorting out friends from acquaintances. I had to stop expecting an instant friend group and shift my thinking toward various independent friends. Even though this was extremely frustrating for me at first, by now I’m starting to see who I will be able to call friend by the end of the year.
The second thing I realized about college is that looking nice every day is really, really hard. I like sweats. I like leggings. I like boxy tshirts. It takes effort to wear something else. However, this is effort that is often worth taking. My campus dresses well—insanely well. On a daily basis, I probably see more men in a tie than I do girls in yoga pants. The students here value putting your best foot forward. An admirable ideal, to be sure, but one that requires a little more planning and forethought.
However, this goes just beyond dressing well. Learning to take care of myself and my daily life has not been exactly fun. It took a few very long, very tiring days to realize staying up late was not a good idea for me, and then a few more to drive it home. I’ve learned what and when I need to eat to stay healthy, a surprisingly difficult task in a cafeteria with an amazing ice cream machine, great pizza, and subpar quantities of fruit. Going from a controlled environment to one with a bit more freedom comes with a few hard lessons.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, I have learned that I belong. School spirit has never necessarily been something I had, seeing as I didn’t technically have a school. Looking around here, though, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride for my school. The people, the courses, the ideals are all shaping who I am going to be. I believe I made the right choice.
Especially at homecoming (my first at a “real” school), the amount of school spirit was almost overwhelming. Seeing the dedication of the alumni who were visiting and the enthusiasm of the students and knowing I was part of it was a great feeling. Surrounded by people who want what I do—to live a better life, to understand beauty and truth—I can’t help but feel like I found a second home.
One side note about which I am especially excited: very soon I will be paid for my writing. I currently freelance for the school newspaper, The Collegian. After a minimum of five articles, I get paid per article and picture. As someone who hasn’t been paid for their work before, this is a big deal for me. I am finally getting paid to do what I love, however minuscule
the amount is.
If you want to see my work, go to hillsdalecollegian.com and search “Jordyn Pair.” Anything I have done will show up in the search results.
Hopefully, this is the just the first step in doing what I love, where I love. I look forward to see what is in store for me not only in my writing, but in life, and I believe Hillsdale College will be my stepping stone.